Workout Trend to Try: Ballet-Inspired Fitness

Plié your way to a toned body with routines that borrow from the dance form.

Art by Tanya Leigh Washington

Ballerinas are among some of the toughest athletes in the world. Beneath the beautiful tulle and silk ribbon costumes are bodies of pure muscle, shaped by graceful gravity-defying movements. For this reason, the art form has always been a muse to the fitness community. The Bar Method, for example, which incorporates exercises on a ballet bar, has been an exercise mainstay with roots dating back to 1959.

Workout Trend to Try: Ballet-Inspired Fitness
(Source: Instagram.com/UnderArmourWomen)

Fast forward to present day and newer exercise methods have formed using the same dance philosophy. Even fitness brand Under Armour jumped on board, tapping American Ballet Theatre dancer Misty Copeland for a recent campaign that showed off her perfectly toned limbs.

Since launching in 2008, Ballet Beautiful gained extreme popularity among celebrities, fashion insiders and models (especially from Victoria's Secret). Mary Helen Bowers, a former New York City Ballet dancer who trained Natalie Portman for Black Swan, created the method to improve posture and target trouble areas such as arms, inner thighs and the back using your own bodyweight and techniques such as various ballet positions and "swan arms". Her studio is based in New York, but you can still dance along with her extensive series of DVDs, virtual live classes and workouts streaming online.

Mary Helen Bowers
Mary Helen Bowers
(Source: Stacey Mark; BalletBeautiful)

Once you stick with it and build your core strength, balance and improve your coordination, you will feel longer, leaner and stronger then ever before.

–Rachel Piskin, Chaise Fitness

BalletBungee adds another element to dance moves: resistance. The classes, available at New York's Chaise Fitness and taught by former New York City Ballet dancer Rachel Piskin, uses an overhead bungee cord to sculpt your whole body with pliés and tendus. "The bungees act as a flexible ballet barre, forcing the client to constantly engage their core, back and glutes in order to perform the exercises smoothly and at a fast tempo," explains Piskin. "This helps clients see results in a quicker and safer manner, as the bungees help them get into proper form, preventing certain injuries."

You don't need any dance background to try a ballet workout. The main thing to keep in mind is effort. "Number one tip is to not get frustrated if you are unable to perform the moves," says Piskin. "The ballet-inspired workout is meant to challenge your balance, coordination and core strength through simple balletic moves. I always say have fun with it. Enjoy moving and using your body in new ways, and your body and mind will thank you later as you will leave the class feeling leaner, longer and more energized."

Rachel Piskin leads a class
Rachel Piskin leads a class
(Source: ChaiseFitness)
              
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